The Journey Of A Christian Reaching For God With The Aid Of Buddha's Teachings

Posts tagged ‘Buddhist Doctrine’

Mother’s Day – Mary mother of Jesus; Queen Maya mother of Buddha…

Mary the Mother of Jesus

Mary was a young virgin girl, most likely around the age of 12 or 13, who was to marry a man named Joseph.  However, it is written in the Holy Bible that Mary was visited by an angel of God.

“26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be calledthe Son of God.” – Luke 1:26-35 (1)

In biblical Jewish culture, when a woman is engaged to a man, they are actually officially married, therefore, the fact that Mary was pregnant and the child was not Joseph’s, he could have had her stoned to death.  Nevertheless, Joseph knew that it was a miracle and allowed Mary to live and accepted Jesus as his own.  While Mary was pregnant, a census of the land was declared causing Joseph and Mary to travel about 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  Since many people were traveling at that time and they would have had to travel slowly since Mary was pregnant, Mary and Joseph were unable to find lodging.  Therefore, they found a person willing to let them stay in a barn.  After Jesus’ birth, Mary would have been as any other house wife in that time.  After Joseph died, it would have been Jesus’ responsibility to care for his mother, since he was the eldest son.  For this reason, Mary traveled with Jesus as he preached.

Queen Maya the Mother of Buddha

Queen Maya, also known as Mahamaya or Mayadevi, means illusion or enchantment in Pali language.  Queen Maya was born in Devadha in the kingdom of Nepal sometime in the 1st century BCE.  She was married to King Suddhodana the king of the Sakya clan of Kapilvastu.  The king and Queen Maya were unable to have children for twenty years of their marriage.  One night on a full moon, Queen Maya had a dream about a white elephant. “She felt herself being carried away by four devas (spirits) to Lake Anotatta in the Himalayas. After bathing her in the lake, the devas clothed her in heavenly cloths, anointed her with perfumes, and bedecked her with divine flowers. Soon after a white elephant, holding a white lotus flower in its trunk, appeared and went round her three times, entering her womb through her right side. Finally the elephant disappeared and the queen awoke, knowing she had been delivered an important message, as the elephant is a symbol of greatness in Nepal” (2).

Queen Maya was said to be pregnant for ten lunar months. She then began traveling back to her own home to give birth to her baby.  However, the baby came before she reached her home. She walked to a Sal Tree which is thought to be in the beautiful flower garden of Lumbina Park, Nepal.  Queen Maya Devi gave birth standing while holding onto a Sal Tree branch.  It is thought that she died seven days after giving birth.

All mothers are great as all mothers give birth to someone special.

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” – Exodus 20:12 (1)

“Love the whole world as a mother loves her only child.” (3)

(1) – Holy Bible. New International Version.

(2) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_%28mother_of_Buddha%29

(3) – http://thinkexist.com/quotation/love_the_whole_world_as_a_mother_lovers_her_only/296857.html

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Homosexuality and Buddhism

With all the issues with equal rights in the United States right now, I thought I would take some time to see what Theravada Buddhism believes about homosexuality. I have heard it said that Buddhist do not judge people since the goal of Buddhism is obtained from ones own doing and not from a higher being. Love, compassion, and respect rule their actions and thoughts. I wondered what other views there were on this subject and what my readers thought as well.

Below is part of an article about homosexuality and Theravada Buddhism that I was reading. It views homosexuality from two different views; the view of the Five Precepts and from the view of karma and social traditions. Read it and draw your own conclusion…

 

Homosexuality in Buddhist Scriptures and Theravada Buddhism

Theravada Buddhism is most commonly found in Southeast Asia, and focuses on the original teachings of the Buddha. In Theravada Buddhism, there are two main ways of life: the life of the monk and the life of the lay person (i.e. ordinary person with a job, a family, a home, etc.)

Buddhist monks are expected to live lives of celibacy, meaning abstinence from any type of sex. There is no explicit rule prohibiting those with a homosexual orientation from monastic life. However, in the Vinaya, the Buddha is recorded as opposing the ordination of those who openly expressed cross-gender features or strong homosexual desires and actions. The Buddhist sacred texts do contain a great deal of instances of loving relationships between unmarried men, which some believe to have homoerotic overtones. No sexual contact is mentioned in these instances, however.

Lay Buddhists (those who live outside the monastery) are expected to adhere to Five Precepts, the third of which is a vow “not to engage in sexual misconduct.” But what is sexual misconduct? Right and wrong behavior in Buddhism is generally determined by considerations such as the following:

  • Universalibility principle – “How would I like it if someone did this to me?”
  • Consequences – Does the act causes harm and regret (in oneself or others) or benefit and joy?
  • Utilitarian principle – Will the act help or harm the attainment of goals (ultimately spiritual liberation)?
  • Intention – Is the act motivated by love, generosity and understanding?

“Sexual misconduct” has thus traditionally been interpreted to include actions like coercive sex, sexual harassment, child molestation and adultery. As Homosexuality is not explicitly mentioned in any of the Buddha’s sayings recorded in the Pali Canon (Tripitaka), most interpreters have taken this to mean that homosexuality should be evaluated in the same way as heterosexuality, in accordance with the above principles.

A Buddhist author of an article on homosexuality concludes:

In the case of the lay man and woman where there is mutual consent, where adultery is not involved and where the sexual act is an expression of love, respect, loyalty and warmth, it would not be breaking the third Precept. And it is the same when the two people are of the same gender. Likewise promiscuity, license and the disregard for the feelings of others would make a sexual act unskillful whether it be heterosexual or homosexual. All the principles we would use to evaluate a heterosexual relationship we would also use to evaluate a homosexual one. In Buddhism we could say that it is not the object of one’s sexual desire that determines whether a sexual act is unskillful or not, but rather the quality of the emotions and intentions involved.

It is also worth noting that Buddhism does not traditionally place great value on procreation like many western religions. From the Buddhist viewpoint, being married with children is regarded as generally positive, but not compulsory (although social norms in various Buddhist countries often have different views).

Despite all this, in practice, Theravada Buddhist countries are not terribly open to homosexual practice. This has much to do with cultural norms, as well as the notion of karma, which remains strong in countries such as Thailand. From this viewpoint, a person’s characteristics and situations are a result of past sins or good deeds. Homosexuality and other alternative forms of sexuality are often seen as karmic punishments for heterosexual misconduct in a past life. Thus far, the gay rights movement has not had great success in Theravada Buddhist countries.

 

http://www.religionfacts.com/homosexuality/buddhism.htm

The Buddha, The Awakened One

As it is Vesak in several countries now, I figured I would reblog this great blog by Panacea today. Enjoy…

PANACEA

This article is dedicated to The Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, whose Birth Anniversary is to be celebrated on the full moon of 6th May, 2012. This day commemorates three important events of Buddha’s life, his birth; his enlightenment, i.e., attainment of supreme wisdom and; his attainment of Nirvana, i.e., the complete extinction of his self.

Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, a spiritual teacher from ancient India lived and died in about the fifth century before the Christian era. Buddha means “enlightened one”, someone who is completely free from all faults and mental obstructions, the “Awakened One”, someone who has awakened and seen things as they really are. Because he has awakened from the sleep of ignorance and has removed all obstructions from his mind, he knows everything of the past, present, and future, directly and simultaneously. Buddha has great compassion which is completely impartial and embracing all living beings without discrimination.

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Day 1 – May Meditation

Here we are at the first day of the May Meditation Challenge.  I look forward to see how meditation will aid in my daily life.  As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I know that studies have shown that meditations can help alleviate a variety of health conditions such as anxiety and depression.  Meditation can make a person calmer and happier as it effects brain waves.  This shift in the brain waves aids in decreasing “the negative effects of stress, mild depression and anxiety. There is also less activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear” (1). Other key benefits of meditation include increasing concentration, becoming more aware of yourself, and just simply slowing down your body and mind to help you relax.  No matter what your religion, meditation can benefit your spirituality, by benefiting your life.

As stated in an earlier post, I am not properly trained in meditation.  For this reason, I am going to use a guided mediation that helps one focus on specific body areas known as chakras in Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism meditation practices.  As I gain the ability to concentrate longer, I will continue my meditation and focus on Theravada Buddhism meditation practices.  These practices include: Anapanasati (focusing on breathing), Metta (cultivation of compassion and loving-kindness), Vipassana (meditation that aids in insight into the true nature of reality), Mahasati Meditation (form of mindfulness meditation that uses body movements to bring about self-awareness), Kammatthana (a complex advance meditation), Samatha (another complex advance meditation used for concentration practices designed to enhance sustained voluntary attention, and culminates in an attention that can be sustained effortlessly for several hours). (2)

The chakra guided meditation that I will begin with is available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qs_DuZigRzY and attached below.  The chakra meditation is a 10 minute video that aids in being aware of specific body areas of circulating energy from the base of the spine up to the crown of ones head.  It helps in refreshing and energizing ones body.  So, take 10 minutes out of your day today and meditate.

“In this very one fathom long body along with perception and thoughts, I proclaim the world, the origin of the world, the cessation of the world, and the path leading to the end of the world.” – Buddha  (3)


(1) – http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200304/the-benefits-meditation

(2) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_meditation#Adoption_by_non-Buddhists

(3) – (1995). Sayings of the buddha. (10th ed.). Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia: Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia.

Who was Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha?

Gautama Buddha (born Siddhārtha Gautama) was born around 566 B.C.E, in the small kingdom of Kapilavastu to his father, King Suddhodana and his mother, Queen Maya.  It was foretold by wise men that the young prince would one day become the next Buddha.  This troubled the King as he wished for the prince to be a great ruler.  In order to avoid the prophecy of the wise men, the King enticed Prince Siddhārtha Gautama to stay in the palace by making the palace so pleasant that the prince will never want to leave.  Prince Siddhārtha Gautama married Princess Yasodhara at age 16 and was given three palaces so he would never think about living outside of the palace.  As time passed, the prince decided to go out of the palace.  It was noted that he left the palace four times and saw four different things. On his first time outside of the palace, the prince noticed the sick.  On his second journey outside of the palace he noticed old age.  On his third time leaving the palace, he noticed death.  The fourth time leaving the palace, the prince met a wandering monk who had given up everything he owned to seek an end to suffering.  The prince decided to be like the monk and began pondering the end of suffering.

Siddhārtha Gautama decided to leave the palace and his wife to become a wandering monk.  He left all his worldly desires, cut his hair, put on ragged robes and began going by the name Gautama.  Over a six-year period, Siddhārtha Gautama spoke with wise men and studied their ways in order understand how to an end to suffering.  None of the wise men knew the answer.  Gautama decided to meditate to find the path to end suffering.  In meditation, he ate only roots, leaves and fruit and sometime nothing.  He became very thin and unhealthy.  He could endure more hardships than anyone else of his time yet he did not find happiness.  He thought, “Neither my life of luxury in the palace nor my life as an ascetic in the forest is the way to freedom. Overdoing things can not lead to happiness. ”  He began to eat nourishing food again and regained his strength.

At last on a full moon night in May, Gautama sat under a fig tree, now known as the Bodhi Tree, and decided not to move until he gained enlightenment.  During the night, he was visited by Mara, the demon, who tried to tempt him away from his path to enlightenment.  Mara sent his beautiful daughters to lure Gautama into visual and physical pleasures, but, Gautama resisted.  Next, Mara sent bolts of lightning, wind and heavy rain to distract Gautama, yet he resisted.  Last, Mara sent his demonic armies with weapons and flaming rocks, however, Gautama met the armies and defeated them one by one with his virtue.

In the end, Gautama realized the cause of suffering and how to remove it.  He had gained enlightenment, the most supreme wisdom and understood things as they truly are, and became the Buddha.,  ‘The Awakened One’.  For the next 45 years, Buddha traveled teaching others how to gain enlightenment for themselves.  He taught of such teachings as The Four Noble Truths, The Noble Eightfold Path, and Nirvana. 

At the ripe old age of 80 years old, Buddha knew that it was close to his death.  He received his last meal from a blacksmith who offered him food.  The Buddha is noted to have told his disciples that he is dying of old age, not because of what he ate (food poison).  The Theravada tradition generally believes that the Buddha was offered some kind of pork, which is acceptable in Theravada Buddhism as the monks and Buddha would ask others for alms and eat whatever was given.  The Mahayana tradition, however, believes that the Buddha ate some sort of truffle or other mushroom, which is required as they are highly vegetarian.

The Buddha’s final words are reported to have been: “All composite things pass away. Strive for your own liberation with diligence.”  At last, Buddha passed on and his body was cremated.  The time of Buddha’s passing is either around 486 B.C.E. according to Theravada tradition or around 383 B.C.E. according to Mahayana traditions.

So, How Does Christianity And Buddhism Compare And Differ?

I figured a follow-up question to “What Does It Mean To Be A Christian – Buddhist” would be so, how does Christianity and Buddhism Compare and Differ from one another?  Below, I compiled a few major items.  First are the similarities followed by some differences.

Similarity Between Christianity And Buddhism
The Golden Rule

  • Buddhism – Buddha based his ethics on the Golden Rule, which was for the welfare of all human beings and all with life in it.
  • Christianity – Jesus also preached His ethics on the Golden Rule, which was for the welfare of all people whether Christian (a Christ follower) or a sinner and easily approachable.

Asceticism (Abstaining from Certain Things)

  • Buddhism – Buddha extreme asceticism and gave an emphasis on self-liberation through knowledge.
  • Christianity – Jesus also rejected extreme asceticism.

Forms Of Worship

  • Buddhism : The worship in Buddhism includes monasticism, ringing of bells, bowing, use of incense and rosary, erection of towers or stupas, prayers and meditation.  Though, one must remember that Theravada Buddhists do not worship any Gods or people, including Buddha.
  • Christianity : Christians also follow almost the same forms of worship – Monasticism, Confession, ringing of bells, use of rosary, incense and the erection of towers.  Note that this is found more in the Catholic churches and its branches/schools.

Love And Compassion

  • Buddhism : The Buddhist doctrine gives an emphasis on love for all of humanity and every other beings as well, no matter whether the being is a friend or an enemy, human or animal.
  • Christianity : The Christian doctrine is also based on the principle of ‘Love thy neighbor like unto yourself’, which means that love should be showered upon not only your friends, but also your enemies.

Difference Between Buddhism And Christianity

God

  • Buddhism – The original Buddhist doctrine does not entail any Godly figures. However, the later Buddhist sects introduced some godly figures.  In Theravada Buddhism, there is no god/gods.
  • Christianity : There is only one triune God (Jesus and the Holy Spirit) who is loving and approachable.

Salvation

  • Buddhism – According to the Buddhist concept, one has to work for one’s own salvation, and therefore, cannot blame or depend on others for salvation.
  • Christianity – Salvation is not based on one’s work, but instead, is for all those who believe and accept Jesus as their savior.

Eternal Life

  • Buddhism – According to the Buddhist doctrine, there is an eternal life, which depends on the karma of one’s present life.
  • Christianity – There is an eternal life in Heaven, which has nothing to do with karma and comes as a free gift of salvation.

Love And Compassion

  • Buddhism – The concept of Buddhism requires the use of love and compassion to gain good karma.  However, it does not mention a God who showers love and takes care of His people.
  • Christianity – The Bible requires the use of love and compassion.  God loves all people and showers His love from Heaven to all.

The Concept of World

  • Buddhism – Buddhism neither deals with the beginning nor a definite end of the world.
  • Christianity – According to the Christian doctrine, God has created the world from nothing, and rules it according to His own definite plan and one day will send Jesus to Earth again to end the current world and renew it to holiness.

Spiritual Texts

  • Buddhism : The Buddhist texts includes only those insights which the Buddha learned by His own strength and will after comprehending the nature of truth.
  • Christianity : The Bible is regarded as the words of God and includes those realities, which are unknown to humanity.

I would love for my blog followers to propose some questions for me to answer, which will allow me to write about what you want to hear about.  Next week, I will begin talking about my personal Christian-Buddhist beliefs.  So come back next Monday/Tuesday for more…

May God bless you and the Buddha guide you throughout your life…

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